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Nov 6, 2012 02:47 PM

Stupid question of the day - spicy dish "over reduced" WAY TOO SPICY

On busy nights, might SO and I often throw some ground meat in a skillet with other random items around the house for a quick meal. A favorite is ground beef with mushrooms, blue cheese and Frank's Red Hot Sauce. I usually cook the beef and mushrooms separately, add Frank's, let simmer for a bit and top with blue cheese on the plate. We both find it addicting for some reason - less messy version of buffalo wings I guess. Tonight, when we were both 5 or so bites in, immediately needed a glass of milk or a rescue fire hose. It was spicier than ever and literally inedible. We both struggled to get through but the burn was too much. We have made this "dish" nearly hundreds of times and it's never been so bad. My only thought is that in my business tonight, I let the dish simmer a bit too long and the liquid evaporated leaving a higher concentration of capsaicin. It's probably a dumb question but does this make sense. As in, if you boil a spicy chili longer than usual and reduce it more, I imagine it will be spicier? Thanks, and we delightfully enjoyed delivery pizza instead. Any solutions for if this happens in the future?

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  1. Your are correct. Seasonings, including spices, increase in intensity as their ratio to the other ingredients increases. In this case, reducing the liquids concentrated the spices so produce a hotter than usual dish. Dilution is the only way to reduce spiciness in foods. I'd suggest thinning out the spicy dish, making another batch of your "dish", sans spices, and mixing it with the highly spiced version.

    2 Replies
    1. re: todao

      Ahh, thank you. We were highly disappointed but it was impossible to eat. I didn't realize I could reduce it to such an extent. I usually simmer 5-10 minutes and there is at least 1/4 cup of sauce to pour over the top, tonight it was probably upwards of 20 minutes+ and there was no liquid whatsoever left in the pan. I imagine my idiot self actually added more hot sauce during simmering because it looked dry and I wasn't paying close enough attention. I know now to keep a better eye.

      1. re: todao

        Hi Todao, I saw on one of your postings that you have a measuring chart, whit equivalent measures, I'm a single male, not much knowledge about the jargon when it comes to cooking, so I would like to ask if I can give a copy of the chart, thank you.

      2. take half of it and throw it in the freezer for next week.

        cook another batch of beef and mushrooms and add this to it, adjusting the final spice as you go. do the same next week.

        This week i made an indonesian curry recipe based on directions from a friend's mom. It was wonderful, but i figured only half the people who were invited to dinner would be able to eat it, so i took out half the sauce and replaced it with more coconut milk. Everyone thought it was great, except a few fanatics who thought it a bit mild. Better mild than half the guests not able to eat.

        That evening while cleaning up I put the removed sauce back in the leftovers and the next night the spicy fans got a real treat, complimenting me while sweat was dripping off their foreheads and eating large quantities of rice. Good stuff.

        2 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          you can reduce salt in a dish by adding a sache of rice, or a couple of large chunks of potato with a bit of water, cooking for a bit, then removing the starch. i imagine that you could probably take a little heat out of a dish the same way

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Yes, I'd do this. Also, are you serving with a starch, rice or noodles? If so, adjusting the ratio may help. I do that with my kids and spicy curries. More rice and cilantro, maybe some sour cream, dilutes and pleases the less-spicy crowd.

          2. if it happens again, add some water and some sugar and reduce. the sugar cuts down on the spice quite a bit.

            1 Reply
            1. re: arjunsr

              I don't think sugar cuts the spice heat, though it changes the flavor. Fat, especially in dairy, is great for neutralizing capsaicin. That's why Indian meals include raita (yogurt sauce) as a side.
              OP could add milk, cream, or yogurt to the too-hot mixture. Pineapple and bell pepper work too, but are not as effective as dairy.

            2. Eat less of it. Treat it more like a condiment than a sauce.

              4 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                haha, we tried that...waaaayyy too hot. I think I'll freeze it and mix it up with a new batch next time.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Frank's Red Hot a bottle.A maybe,did you shake the bottle or in a rush forget? To get caught by too much reduction OK but if you also had a nice,concentrated,settled hit of the business part in that bottle,just saying.It's happened to me.

                  1. re: lcool

                    Yup, in a bottle. I can't say I ever remember shaking the bottle. I would imagine I did, but who knows? I was just shocked that it was so unbearingly spicy as Frank's isn't really all that spicy and I can usually take a lot of heat.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      The hubby rarely cooks.When he is of a mind to,only after choosing something he can do with ease and I'll do the mise,anything in a bottle that settles is on it's side tightly closed.He is NOTORIOUS for did not shake or stir without a reminder.